If you have listened to Christian radio for any amount of time, you have certainly heard the iconic voice of Luis Palau encouraging us how to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus. Inspired by the preaching and ministry of Billy Graham, Luis prayed and committed his life to evangelism in 1952.
Ten years later, Luis would join the Billy Graham Crusades as a Spanish interpreter in Fresno, California. With the help of Graham, Palau would go on to found his own evangelistic ministry and preach the gospel to millions around the world.
What remains consistent in the lives of great men like Palau and Graham is their love of God’s saving grace. It is easy to see that they have a great love of God, but what seems to drive them even more is the message of God’s love for others. Let us consider three lessons from the life of Luis Palau.
1. Say Yes.
So much of our lives are filled with mundane rituals that cause us to say “no” to new things. One of these rituals may be our religion. Palau believed that we serve the Creator of the Universe and there is nothing mundane about that. He once said, “One encounter with Jesus Christ is enough to change you, instantly, forever.”
The story of Scripture is a testimony that God will use ordinary people to do extraordinary things, but it hinges on our obedience to God. What is it that God is calling us to do? What are we not saying “yes” to? Palau says, “Have you stopped seeing great things happen in your life? Perhaps you have stopped believing that God can work in a mighty way even in our generation.”
2. Reach Your World.
We live in a time where social rightness and acceptance are more important than sharing your faith, but Palau believed that “evangelism is not an option for the Christian life.” He would say, “The most thrilling thing you can ever do is win someone to Christ. And it’s contagious. Once you do it, you don’t want to stop.”
We live in a time where we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes but have we considered that in doing so, we are hiding the most spectacular story of all time? We are okay with our “holy huddles” every Sunday as long as it doesn’t create too much friction or waves in the sea of life. One of my favorite quotes from Palau is “The church is like manure. Pile it up, and it stinks up the neighborhood. Spread it out, and it enriches the world.”
I truly believe that our “holy huddles” are starting to stink like manure, but if we will invest in reaching the world with the Good News of Jesus, we will begin to see great growth in the church. Acts 2:47 says, “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
3. Do the Unexpected.
One thing I have learned from Luis Palau is that he wasn’t afraid to try new things and do the unexpected. Church history is filled with many who were not afraid to defy the odds.
We live in a culture that loves safety, but Luis said, “A nation will not be moved by timid methods.” The church must lead again as it has in the past to answer the call to care for people, to do hard things, and to proclaim Jesus in the process.
This doesn’t mean we are obnoxious, but that we are bold. Luis understood that sometimes it would take the face of having fun. He said, “There will be something for everybody, we want the community to see that the church can throw a good party.” Where is it that our communities aren’t expecting the Church to lead? Let us stand in the gap and do the unexpected!
This week we Luis Palau went on to be with Jesus. Many times we will say that we “lost” a great one, but it is only a “loss” if we don’t learn from their lives. Let us take these lessons from the life of Luis Palau and reach our world!
“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8